Indian-origin scientist leads team to develop drones that navigate like birdsNRI Top Stories

July 05, 2016 05:22
Indian-origin scientist leads team to develop drones that navigate like birds

A team of researchers led by Indian-origin scientist is building biologically-inspired drones which can navigate just like birds and other flying insects. Such drones will be able to fly without any human input, radar or satellite navigation.

The group of scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia is conducing study on flying techniques like budgerigars and bees share. They are applying their findings to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) control programmes.

Professor Mandyam Srinivasan, who is leading the research, said that, "We study how small airborne creatures such as bees and birds use their vision to avoid collisions with obstacles, fly safely through narrow passages, control their height above the ground and more."

"We then use biologically-inspired principles to design novel vision systems and algorithms for the guidance of UAVs," Srinivasan said.

"Bees' brains weigh a tenth of a milligramme and carry far fewer neurons than our own brains; yet the insects are capable of navigating accurately to food sources over 10 km away from their hive," said Srinivasan.

"Birds too can perform incredible aerobatics and navigational feats. These animals are clearly using simple and elegant strategies, honed by thousands of years of evolution," he said.

"These animals are clever, can be easily trained, and possess sophisticated visual systems that are not unlike those of our own," said Srinivasan. "The study of their behaviour could also reveal some of the basic principles of visual guidance in a number of organisms including humans," he said.

"The biologically-inspired principles we uncover will foster a new generation of fully autonomous UAVs that do not rely on external help such as GPS (Global Positioning System) or radar," said Srinivasan.

"These UAVs could be incredibly useful for applications like surveillance, rescue operations, defence, and planetary exploration," he said

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